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Maverick’ lawsuit alleging blockbuster film too similar to magazine article is tossed

Paramount Pictures has won the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming its 2022 Tom Cruise blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick” borrowed too much from a 1983 magazine article that inspired the original “Top Gun” film.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson in Los Angeles said the sequel was not “substantially similar” to Ehud Yonay’s “Top Guns,” about the Top fighter pilot training school US Navy gun in San Diego.

Yonay’s widow Shosh Yonay and son Yuval Yonay, the heirs to his copyright, said they deserve a share of the sequel’s profits, after Paramount built a billion-dollar franchise from an article that “breathed life into the technical routine of a naval base.”

The judge ruled that the sequel was not “substantially similar” to Ehud Yonay’s “Top Guns,” about the U.S. Navy’s Top Gun fighter pilot training school in San Diego. P.A.

Lawyers for the Yonays did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment. Lawyers for Paramount did not immediately respond to similar requests.

“Top Gun: Maverick” featured Cruise reprising his role as U.S. Navy test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.

It grossed $1.5 billion worldwide, becoming Cruise’s biggest film and the 12th highest-grossing film according to Box Office Mojo.

The plaintiffs, both Israelis, claimed that the fictional film “Maverick” was a “derivative” of the non-fictional film “Top Guns” because of its similar plots, characters, dialogue, settings and themes.

But the judge said copyright law does not protect factual elements such as the identities of real people in “Top Guns,” nor familiar plot elements such as pilots embarking on missions, being shot down or partying in a bar.

He also said that copyright law does not protect themes such as “the pure love of flying” or the one specific dialogue – “The fight is on” – identified in the two works.

Tom Cruise
“Top Gun: Maverick” featured Tom Cruise reprising his role as US Navy test pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

“No reasonable juror could find substantial similarity in ideas and expression,” Anderson wrote.

Anderson also said Paramount was not required to credit Ehud Yonay in the sequel, as it did in the original “Top Gun” with a “suggested by” credit, after the Yonays in 2020 ended the Paramount’s exclusive motion picture rights to his item.

The article was published in the May 1983 issue of California magazine.

The case is Yonay et al v. Paramount Pictures Corp., United States District Court, Central District of California, No. 22-03846.

New York Post

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